The Biosphere Reserve, an exceptional distinction!
The Mont-Ventoux Biosphere Reserve covers 90,000 hectares and has 38,000 inhabitants.
It is an international recognition awarded by UNESCO in 1990 to the giant of Provence for the quality of its natural environments, its biological diversity and the many links forged between man and nature over the centuries that have shaped its fabulous landscapes. The perimeter of the Reserve is :
- Six central areas (the summit of Mont-Ventoux, the Mont-Serein, the beech grove, the cedar grove, la tête des mines and the Nesque gorges) which ensure the conservation of the biotopes.
- A buffer zone surrounds the central areas to reinforce protection and ensure the development of traditional activities (forestry, pastoralism, ecotourism).
- Finally, the transition area, spread over the Comtat-Venaissin plain, the Toulourenc valley and the Sault plateau, supports sustainable economic and human activities.
More than 1,500 plant species have been recorded and nearly 150 species of birds.
Vegetation on the plains and hills
It is between 100 and 650 metres, on the lower slopes or at the foot of Mont-Ventoux, that the vegetation is typical of the Mediterranean climate, dominated by evergreen trees and shrubs:
There are holm oaks, kermes oaks, Cade (Juniper oxychedron), Aleppo pines...
The holm oak grove is much more widespread, even dense on the southern slope of the mountain. When the trees gradually spread out and let the light through, the forest becomes coppice, then garrigue interspersed with lawns. The garrigue offers a colourful, fragrant vegetation. (Dwarf irises, thyme, rosemary, honeysuckle...). The kermes oak (with its tiny leaves resembling holly leaves) rubs shoulders with the Alaterne, the Euphorbe characias (looks like a dwarf palm) in the garrigue. Rosemary prefers a softer, clayey soil found between Bédoin and the Col de la Madeleine . The lawns are grassy areas: Thyme tufts, bulbous plants (Rush-leaved Narcissus, Southern Tulip...).
Between 500 and 800 metres, the holm oak grove gradually gives way to the white oak grove. Both oak forests are found in the transition forest (except for Aleppo pine which prefers the heat). Boxwood, Amelanchier, lavender aspic, juniper and juniper of Phoenicia are established.
Vegetation at medium altitude
Its maximum altitude is set between 700 and 1100 metres, given the strong asymmetry between the different northern and southern slopes. Deciduous trees and shrubs dominate.
This is the area of predilection for the white oak (its leaves turn golden yellow in autumn). The cedar groves with the oldest trees are located on the southern slope in the commune of Bédoin. Boxwood is omnipresent in the undergrowth (its foliage turns red in autumn).
In May, it is an explosion of colours with the pink flowers of the Saponaire des rochers, the beautiful yellow flowers of the sessile-leaved cytis and broom, the blue of the Aphyllante de Montpellier. In the undergrowth, you can find the Melissa Leaf Melite (family of thyme, sage, mint...).
In the light woods, orchids take their place: the Ophrys de la Drôme, the dark red Epipactis... The grassy areas are home to the common juniper, the blackthorn...
It is this original and varied vegetation that offers the main part of the floristic richness of the Ventoux.
The forests of beeches, firs, Scots pines and above all moors and scree. The mountain freshness allows varieties of orchid species to flower. A rare variety and the only one in the Vaucluse, the Pale Orchis, can be found in the Ventoux!
In the rocks at the summit, far from being just a pile of stones, there is an exceptional flora.
The Ancolie de Reuter with its blue flowers, the Panicaut with its white flowers, the Dompte-venin is common in the areas of hook pines on the southern slope. The Lunar Botrych is a rare plant on the Mont Serein.
The crown cap is a paradise for small plants. Some have a "cushion" shape. They are resistant to wind and cold and are coloured to protect them from ultraviolet rays. In the mountains, the breeding season is short. They seduce insects with their generous shapes and numerous, clustered flowers. They are also clever for settling on mobile ground. Without uprooting themselves, they follow the scree!
The star plant of the Ventoux is certainly De Candolle's Iberis. More discreet, but rarer is the Euphorbe de Loiseleur...
Countless varieties to look at, contemplate and above all not to pick up!